Satanik

Not every older movie that gets a review here deserves it. Some are so bad they become highly amusing and thus worthwhile anyway, but some are reviewed here mainly as a warning. Today’s Satanik review has merely one purpose: make sure you only lose 85 minutes of your life by watching this if you really want to.

In Satanik we follow older ugly scientist Marnie Bannister who happens to be in the right spot at the right time: a colleague discovers a serum that allows certain animals to rejuvenate. Bannister doesn’t think twice, kills the scientist and experiments on herself. And lo and behold, suddenly she’s young and beautiful, proving that scars and ugliness are only signs of old age. Wow, these cult movies sure are educational, aren’t they?
Anyway, Marnie does the right thing and finds her way in the seedy underworld, thereby having to do the occasional killing of the innocent and less innocent. But watch out Marnie, a Scotland Yard inspector is hot on your trail… well, I say ‘hot’, the guy doesn’t really have a clue throughout the movie, but can one say you’re lukewarm on someone’s trail? No.

This groundbreaking masterpiece was made in 1968 by one Piero Vivarelli. He’s mainly remembered for directing Africa Erotica (La Decamerone Nero), despite having made more than a dozen films. The main reason to watch Satanik is the actress who gets to play the lead, Magda Konopka. Magda’s filmography is decidedly more impressive, featuring guest roles in tv shows (e.g. Danger Man, Department S and The Persuaders) and roles in cult movies like When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and Lucky Luciano. Nothing too spectacular, but at least she deserves her own little footnote in cinema’s history.

Satanik‘s main problem is that it’s boring as hell, despite having every chance in the world to be exciting. There’s a trail of murders, a sexy protagonist who has a seedy side and great locations in Switzerland. Yet it outbores a documentary on two average-sized grey rocks being sent by mail from Essex to Ipswitch in a plastic bag.

And to make things worse the DVD release by Retro Media is fullscreen, so people and objects disappear from your screen from time to time. The DVD release does state that because of the film’s age and condition it couldn’t always be restored to a sparkling format, which we do understand, but sometimes the result looks like a hastily remastered VHS tape. One of the two covers features the poster we’ve also used in this review, but the other cover features a naked lady who looks nothing like the actress with a pentagram that has nothing to do with the film.

Mind you, the other poster doesn’t really give you a good idea of the film either. The mask you see Satanik wear is only used in one scene of the film, the striptease scene. Vivarelli even managed to make a striptease scene boring, so in a way he should get an award for that. The scene starts with a band that were either expensive or good friends of the director, because we have to wait an entire tiresome number before the film continues with Marnie’s striptease. The most positive thing I can say about the scene is that at least it doesn’t feature the irritating zoom shots Vivarelli seemed to have learnt from Jess Franco and that only help in making the film look even more amateurish and cheap. Stay tuned for this scene by the way, you can find it at the end of the article.

Sadly enough, there is a lovely history behind the photo strip that was turned into this borefest. It starts with the Italian photo strip Killing (which led to a.o. the Kilink movies released by Onar Films), which was conceived in Italy in 1965 as an answer to the French comic Kriminal (also turned into a movie by Umberto Lenzi). Killing, which was more violent than Kriminal, also got a French release, but the publishers decided a name change would be good for the character. Only 19 photo-strips were made of Killing/Satanik but because of its gratuitous violence, it found a large share of fans. Max Bunker, who was the man behind Kriminal (the comic Satanik tried to cash in on), reacted by making a comic for the Italian market. It featured an ugly scientist who became young and beautiful again and Bunker named it… Satanik.

So there you go, a movie which may have a more interesting background but which is turned into an unexciting movie that tries to cash in on the success of movies like Lenzi’s Kriminal and Mario Bava‘s Danger Diabolik. Two movies we’d recommend you instead. And now, as promised, the scene the movie tried to build up to (and failed):

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